Things That Matter

The Internet Has Come Together To Fund The Funeral Of Leilah Hernandez — An Odessa Shooting Victim Who Had Just Celebrated Her Quince

Our Texas familia has had a difficult and heartbreaking August. At the beginning of the month, a domestic terrorist attacked an El Paso Wal-Mart, targeting the city’s Latinx population. The attack resulted in 22 deaths and harmed dozens more. On the final day of August, another domestic terrorist went on a shooting spree along the West Texas interstate spanning two cities. The assault started in Midland, Texas and ended over 20 miles away in nearby Odessa. 

When the massacre was over, 7 people were dead and 25 were wounded.

Leilah Hernandez was one of those 7 who died in the Odessa/Midland shooting. 

Twitter / @BeccaFromTX

The 15-year-old had recently celebrated her Quinceañera and was the youngest victim to lose her life because of this assault. Hernandez died at the scene, wrapped in her older brother’s arms. The pair were out shopping with their parents for a truck. Her brother, Nathan, remains in Intensive Care as he receives treatment for his injuries. Understandably, Leilah’s family is reeling from her tragic loss.   

To help cover Hernandez’s funeral cost and medical bills for the family, her father set up a Go Fund Me campaign. The fundraiser reads, “Please help out our family as we had a tragedy today” and features a portrait from Hernandez’s Quinceañera.

Though the campaign has only been open for 3 days, it has raised over $24,000 for the grieving family. 

Twitter / @Nathan_H001

The campaign has been shared over 6,000 times and has nearly 500 contributors. Though the fundraiser has earned over double its goal, it is still accepting donations to help Hernandez’s family during this horrific time.

Besides monetary donations, the Go Fund Me page has been swarmed with condolences from those impacted by the news of Hernandez’s untimely death.

  Go Fund Me

Many donors expressed their frustration with our government’s failure to enact gun reform legislation. Many feel that the only way to avoid further deaths by assault rifles is to make the weapons more difficult to obtain. If our representatives act in our nation’s best interest and regulate these weapons, deaths like Leilah’s could be avoided 

Nathan’s bravery was acknowledged in the condolences and comments left on the fundraiser. 

Go Fund Me

Nathan’s injury resulted because he was attempting to shield his sister. He suffered a gunshot to his arm while holding Leilah. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to save his sister from the bullet that took her life but he held her and offered her comfort in her final moments. His bravery should be acknowledged and commended. We’re sure Leilah is very proud of her big brother.

Some saw parallels between Hernandez’s family and their own. 

Go Fund Me

This donor shared that her own daughter recently celebrated a Quince ⁠— just as Hernandez did this past May. The comparison goes to show that this could happen to any family. Mass shootings have become an epidemic and it seems that no space is safe. The thought that these tragedies could touch our lives is terrifying but it’s a reality we need to acknowledge. 

Others shared their condolences and prayers for the family. 

Go Fund Me

“We have to help,” this comment begins. Though prayers alone won’t change the world we live in, hopefully, the enormous outpouring of love, well wishes, and prayer will provide some comfort to the Hernandez family. 

We hope Leilah’s family and the families impacted by this tragedy are comforted by the support being shown by their communities. Let’s continue to help these victims in their recovery and hope something changes to avoid the next seemingly preventable tragedy. 

 
 
 
 

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More Information Has Come Out About the Man Who Senselessly Shot a Young Woman While She Was Walking Her Dog

Things That Matter

More Information Has Come Out About the Man Who Senselessly Shot a Young Woman While She Was Walking Her Dog

Photo via bella_joy_gardens/Instagram

On June 10th, 2020, a senseless crime was committed. 21-year-old Isabella Thallas was shot and killed while she was out walking her dog with her boyfriend, 26-year-old Darian Simon. Simon, who was shot as well, survived.

Almost immediately after Thallas lost her life, the police were informed of the murderer: 36-year-old Michael Close, who lived in the same building as the couple.

Michael Close had shot the couple from his window with an AK-47. Thallas died almost instantly.

Close was quickly arrested and charged with first-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, and possession of a high-capacity magazine during a crime.

But questions piled up as to why Close committed this crime in the first place. Why did he target the couple? Was the murder pre-meditated? How did this unstable man get his hands on an AK-47?

As the police put the pieces together, the motive was shocking. According to Close, he shot and killed Thallas because her dog defecated in the alley behind his unit.

The story he gave police lined up with Darian Simon’s version of events as well. Simon says that he and Thallas were walking their dog together behind their building. Simon commanded the dog to “poop” when he heard Close yelling at him from the window above them.

“Are you going to train that f—ing dog or just yell at it?” Close allegedly yelled out the window at them. When Simon bent down to pick up the dog’s feces, that’s when Close open-fired out the window. Simon was able to run away with wounds to his lower body. Thallas lost her life.

According to Close’s girlfriend, the man had been mentally unwell for a long time.

He had been diagnosed with depression as well as a personality disorder but refused to seek help. He frequently abused drugs and alcohol after being sober for three years.

The murder of Thallas was a culmination of a tumultuous night where he had been drinking and arguing with his girlfriend for hours. Thallas just happened to be the person who was at the receiving-end of his outburst. She was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

And recently, some more disturbing information has come to light about Thallas’s murder.

According to Denver Police, the gun that Close used to murder Thallas was taken from his friend, police officer Sgt. Dan Politica.

The close friendship between a police officer and an unhinged murder is, understandably, drawing questions from the Denver community.

The Denver Police Department confirmed that Close and Politica were “close friends”. Thalla’s mother, Anna Thallas, appears to have even more information on the friendship.

“They’re best friends. Life-long best friends for over 20 years. They grew up together,” she told 9News Denver.

Anna Thallas is angry and frustrated that the Denver police aren’t conducting an internal investigation.

The DPD argues that Sgt. Politica did nothing wrong. Thallas points to his failure to report the rifle missing until after her daughter was missing as a massive red flag. It is also worth noting that Politica has a history of violence and disciplinary actions by the DPD.

According to phone records, Close texted Sgt. Politica before the murder complaining about a dog in his neighborhood. After he murdered Thallas, he left Politica a voicemail saying he “really f—-d up bad.”

“That man should be stripped of his uniform,” Anna Thallas said. “Had that officer acted in his capacity and the oath that he took to serve and protect and was a responsible gun owner, Isabella might still be alive. My daughter might still be here.”

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The Florida Law That Resulted In Trayvon Martin’s Death Is About To Be Expanded In A Big Way

Things That Matter

The Florida Law That Resulted In Trayvon Martin’s Death Is About To Be Expanded In A Big Way

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Florida already has one of the nation’s most far-reaching “Stand Your Ground” laws but the state’s governor wants to take it a step further: allow people to shoot looters and anyone suspected of rioting or being part of a mob.

DeSantis says the move is in response to an increase in crime across the state and to the ongoing nationwide protests that have resulted in occasional property damage and violence.

However, most experts agree that laws like Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law should be weakens or eliminated, since evidence shows that these laws can actually lead to an increase in violence and homicides.

Florida’s governor wants to expand the state’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.

Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis (Republican) is looking to amend the state’s “stand your ground” law, to make it one of the nation’s broadest. His amendments to the legislation are part of his “anti-mob” legislation, which are supposed to target people accused of illegal acts during riots and looting.

But critics rightfully worry that expanding the already dangerous law, would empower people to use violence and deadly force during chaotic and tense confrontations at protests.

The timing is also suspicious, considering the move is coming as part of an aggressive agenda following months of large-scale racial justice protests across the country.

Under Florida’s current law “a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if … he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.”

DeSantis wants to expand this law to include “criminal mischief that results in the interruption or impairment of a business operation; arson that results in the interruption or impairment of a business operation; and any other felony.”

Democrats are already pushing back strongly against the proposed amendment.

Credit: Saul Loeb / Getty Images

Legislators, attorneys and others call DeSantis’ proposal “racist,” “dangerous” and “extreme.”

In a recent Miami Herald article, Denise Georges, a former Miami-Dade County County prosecutor who had handled “Stand Your Ground” cases said, “It allows for vigilantes to justify their actions.. It also allows for death to be the punishment for a property crime — and that is cruel and unusual punishment. We cannot live in a lawless society where taking a life is done so casually and recklessly.”

In the same article, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, said the governor’s draft bill “sounds like an invitation to incite violence.”

The law gained national attention following the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Credit: Ted Soqui / Getty Images

In 2012, Trayvon Martin was killed by a man who claimed the “Stand Your Ground” defense and his story shocked the country. The 17-year-old teen was unarmed and chased by George Zimmerman which resulted in a physical altercation.

Although Martin was unarmed and not guilty of any crime – he was returning home from a quick walk to a convenience store – his killer was found not guilty thanks to the state’s strong “Stand Your Ground” law.

So-called ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws are becoming more common across the country.

Nearly three dozen states are “stand your ground” states, including 27 which have explicit laws saying so. They have been expanded over the past ten years as more states follow Florida’s lead.

A 2018 RAND Corporation review of existing research concluded that “there is moderate evidence that stand-your-ground laws may increase homicide rates and limited evidence that the laws increase firearm homicides in particular.” In 2019, RAND authors indicated additional evidence had appeared to reinforce their conclusions.

And although Florida’s legislature remains firmly in Republican control following this year’s election, it’s unclear whether DeSantis will find a sponsor for his proposed amendments.

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